September 7: God Rides to Battle
Joel 1:1–2:21; Acts 7:1–53; Job 18:1–21
God is good, but in the words of C.S. Lewis, “He is not tame.” When it comes time for evil to be purged from the world, He is not timid, and when He acts, He rarely holds back. We see such a scene prophesied concerning the Day of Yahweh—the day He will return to the earth as Christ—in Joel 2:1–11.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh is coming—it is indeed near. A day of darkness and gloom, a day of cloud and thick darkness, like the dawn spreads on the mountains, a great and strong army! There has been nothing like it from old, and after it nothing will be again for generations to come” (Joel 2:1–2).
When God charges into battle, He seizes control of all that must be yielded so His purpose is not hindered. He then performs great and mighty deeds on behalf of His people. As Joel says, “There has been nothing like it.” So why, then, has God not done this already? What is He waiting for? Why is evil allowed to continue if God can end it?
We find our answers in Joel 2:12–17. God, in His mercy, is allowing a time of repentance: “ ‘And even now,’ declares Yahweh, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, and weeping, and wailing. Rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to Yahweh your God, because he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in loyal love, and relenting from harm’ ” (Joel 2:12–13).
Indeed, God’s trumpet will sound, but even with that time approaching, He is a compassionate God, and His call is simple: “Come back to me.”
What do you need to turn from today? What makes you hopeful about God’s coming?
JOHN D. BARRY
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Hear ye this, O Elders, and hearken ye all inhabitants of the land, whether such a thing hath been in your days, or yet in the days of your fathers. Tell you your children, and their children, to another generation. That which is left of the palmerworm, hath the grasshopper eaten, and the residue of the grasshopper hath the cankerworm eaten, and the residue of the cankerworm hath the caterpillar eaten. Awake ye drunkards, and weep and howl and ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it shall be pulled from your mouth. Yea, a nation cometh upon my land, mighty and without number, whose teeth are like the teeth of a lion, and he hath the jaws of a great lion. He maketh my vine waste, and pilleth off the bark of my fig tree: he maketh it bare, and casteth it down: the branches thereof are made white. Mourn like a virgin girded with sackcloth, for the husband of her youth. The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord: the Priests the Lord’s ministers mourn. The field is wasted: the land mourneth: for the corn is destroyed: the new wine is dried up, and the oil is decayed. Be ye ashamed, O husbandmen: howl, O ye vinedressers for the wheat and for the barley, because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree is decayed: the pomegranate tree and the palm tree, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field are withered: surely the joy is withered away from the sons of men. Gird yourselves and lament ye Priests: howl ye ministers of the altar: come, and lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of God: for the meat offering, and the drink offering is taken away from the house of your God. Sanctify you a fast: call a solemn assembly: gather the Elders, and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord. Alas: for the day, for the day of the Lord is at hand, and it cometh as a destruction from the Almighty. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes? and joy, and gladness from the house of our God? The seed is rotten under their clods: the garners are destroyed: the barns are broken down, for the corn is withered. How did the beasts mourn! the herds of cattle pine away, because they have no pasture, and the flocks of sheep are destroyed. O Lord, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burnt up all the trees of the field. The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness. … Fear not, O land, but be glad, and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. Joel 1:1–2:21
- Then said the chief Priest, Are these things so? And he said, Ye men, brethren, and Fathers, hearken, That God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, while he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, And said unto him, Come out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land of the Chaldeans, and come into the land which I shall show thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Haran. And after that his father was dead, God brought him from thence into this land, wherein ye now dwell, And he gave him none inheritance in it, no not the breadth of a foot: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. But God spake thus, that his seed should be a sojourner in a strange land: and that they should keep it in bondage, and entreat it evil four hundred years. But the nation to whom they shall be in bondage, will I judge, saith God: and after that, they shall come forth and serve me in this place. He gave him also the covenant of circumcision: and to Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day: and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob the twelve Patriarchs. And the Patriarchs moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt, and over his whole house. Then came there a famine over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, that our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent our fathers first:: And at the second time Joseph was known of his brethren, and Joseph’s kindred, even threescore and fifteen souls. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, and our fathers, And were removed into Shechem, and were put in the sepulcher, that Abraham had brought for money of the sons of Hamor, son of Shechem. But when the time of the promise drew near, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people that grew and multiplied in Egypt. Till another King arose, which knew not Joseph. The same dealt subtly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, and made them to cast out their young children, that they should not remain alive. The same time was Moses born and was acceptable unto God: which was nourished up in his father’s house three months. And when he was cast out, Pharoah’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. Now when he full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And when he saw one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged his quarrel that had the harm done to him, and smote the Egyptian. For he supposed his brethren would have understood, that God by his hand should give them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren: why do ye do wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbor wrong, thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a prince, and a judge over us? Wilt thou wilt killl me, as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday? Then fled Moses at that saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai, an Angel of the Lord in a flame of fire, in a bush. And when Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to consider it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold it. Then the Lord said unto him, Put of thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest, is holy ground. I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people, which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them: and now come, and I will send thee into Egypt. This Moses whom they forsook, saying, Who made thee prince and a judge? the same God sent for a prince, and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel, which appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, doing wonders, and miracles in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A Prophet shall the Lord your God rise up unto you, even of your brethren, like unto me: him shall ye hear. This is he that was in the Congregation, in the wilderness with the Angel, which spake to him in mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received the lively oracles to give uto us. To whom our fathers would not obey, but refused, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods that may go before us: for we know not what has become of this Moses that brought us out of the land of Egypt. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned himself away, and gave them up to serve the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets, O house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beast and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? And ye took up the Tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures, which ye made to worship them: therefore I will carry you away beyond Babylon. Our fathers had the Tabernacle of the witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. Which tabernacle also our fathers received and brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, which God drove out before our fathers unto the days of David. Who found favor before God, and desired that he might find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, as saith the Prophet, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what house will ye build for me, saith the Lord? or what place is it that I should rest in? Hath not mine hand made all these things? Ye stiff-necked and of uncircumcised hearts and ears, ye have always resisted the holy Ghost: as your fathers did, do do you. Which of the Prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them, which showed before of the coming of that Just, of whom ye are now the betrayers and murderers, Which have received the law by the ordinance of Angels, and have not kept it. But when they heard these things, their hearts brast for anger, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he being full of the holy Ghost, looked steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God. Then they gave shout with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him violently all at once, And cast him out of the city, and toned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, named Saul. And they stoned Stephen, who called on God, and said, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had thus spoken, he slept.. Acts 7:1–53
- Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, When will you make an end of your words? cause us to understand, and then we will speak. Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and are vile in your sight? Thou art as one that teareth his soul in his anger. Shall the earth be forsaken for thy sake? or the rock removed out of his place? Yea, the light of the wicked shall be quenched, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his dwelling, and his candle shall be put out with him. The steps of his strength shall be restrained, and his own counsel shall cast him down. For he is taken in the net by his feet, and he walketh upon the snares. The grenne shall take him by the heel, and the chief shall come upon him. A snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap laid for him in the way. Fearfulness shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet. His strength shall be famine: and destruction shall be ready at his side. It shall devour the inner parts of his skin, and the firstborn of death shall devour his strength. His hope shall be rooted out of his dwelling, and shall cause him to go to the king of fear. Fear shall dwell in his house (because it is not his) and brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation. His roots shall be dried from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street. They shall drive him out of the light unto darkness, and chase him out of the world. He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any posterity in his dwellings. The posterity shall be astonied at his day, and fear shall come upon the ancient. Surely such are the habitations of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God. Job 18:1–21